I wish to speak on “College Uneducation.” Is it possible that our college educationmay “uneducate” rather than educate? I answer “Yes.” It is a paradox but nonetheless the truth—the grim, unmerciful truth. We all believe in higher education; else we should not be in the University. At the same time, college education—like all other human devices for human betterment—may build or destroy, lead, or mislead.
My ten years’ humble service in the University of the Philippines has afforded me an opportunity to watch the current of ideals and practices of our student body. In some aspects of higher education, most of our students have measured up to their high responsibilities. But in other features—alas, vital ones!—the thoughts and actions of many of them tend to stunt the mind, dry up the heart, and quench the soul. These students are being uneducated in college. I shall briefly discussthree ways in which many of our students are getting college uneducation, for which they pay tuition fees and make unnumbered sacrifices.
In the first place, there is the all but delirious worship of the printed page. “What does the book say?” is, by all odds, the most important question in the student’s mind whenever he is faced with any problem calling for his own reasoning. By the same token, may students feel a sort of frenzy for facts till these become as huge as the mountains and the mind is crushed under them. Those students think of nothing but how to accumulate data; hence, their capacity for clear and powerful thinking is paralyzed. How pathetic to hear them argue and discuss! Because they lack the native vitality of unhampered reason, their discourse smacks of cant and sophistry rather than of healthy reasoning and straight thinking.
It is thus that many of our students surrender their individuality to the textbook and lose their birthright—which is to think for themselves. And when they attempt to form their own judgment, they become pedantic. Unless a student develops the habit of independent and sound reasoning, his college education is a solemn sham.
Compare these hair-splitting college students with Juan de la Cruz in the barrios. Now, Juan de la Cruz has read very little: no undigested mass of learning dulls the edge of his inborn logic, his mind is free from the overwhelming, stultifying weight of unassimilated book knowledge. How penetrating his perception, how unerring his judgment, how solid his common sense! He contemptuously refers to the learned sophists, thus: ”Lumabis ang karunungan mo,” which means, “Your learning is too much.”
The second manner of college uneducation that I want to speak of is this: most students make professional efficiency the be-all and end-all of college education. They have set their hearts upon becoming highly trained lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, and agriculturists. I shall not stop to inquire into the question of how much blame should be laid at the door of the faculties of the University for this pernicious drift toward undue and excessive specialization. That such a tendency exists is undeniable, but we never pause to count, the cost! We are all of one mind: I believe that college education is nothing unless it widens a man’s vision, broadens his sympathies, and leads him to higher thinking and deep feeling. Yet how can we expect a; this result from a state of affairs which reduces a law student to a code, a prospective doctor to a prescription, and a would-be engineer to a mathematical formula? How many students in our professional colleges are doing any systematic reading in literature? May we not, indeed, seriously ask whether this fetish of specialization does not smother the inspiring sense of beauty and the ennobling love of finer things that our students have it in them to unfold into full-blown magnificence.
The Jading Dullness of Modern Life
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